Longtime Community Board 2 district manager Robert Perris to resign

Rob Perris during a visit to Brooklyn Paper Radio’s studio in 2017.
File photo by Vince DiMiceli

Community Board 2’s District Manager Robert Perris plans to resign from his position on Dec. 26, saying he wants to focus on his family after 17 years at the helm of the Downtown Brooklyn civic panel.

“Seventeen years is a long time,” Perris told Brooklyn Paper. “It’s partly [because of] family obligations, I’ve been the only one in the office for nine months during the coronavirus.”

Perris’ departure was first announced in an internal notice the board’s chair Lenny Singletary circulated on Dec. 18, where the leader thanked Perris for managing the mostly-volunteer board and providing his expertise of city government’s inner workings.

“Over the years, the Community Board has benefitted from Rob’s considerable knowledge about and long experience working in City Government,” Singletary wrote. “Rob has gone above and beyond, reporting to the office every day, overseeing staff remotely, and playing an essential role in our virtual Community Board meetings. We thank Rob for his long years of service and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Prior to joining the board as district manager in 2013, Perris worked in the planning departments of former borough presidents Howard Golden and Marty Markowitz on issues like parks, open space, and waterfront issues.

His tenure at CB2 was not without controversy. In 2018 the board voted to suspend Perris without pay for a month at a closed-door meeting, following a two-month absence of the staffer, who, unlike volunteer board members, is a paid city employee earning a handsome $105,360 salary, according to public records.

Singletary did not respond to a request to further explain Perris’s 2018 suspension or the weeks leading up to it. 

For his part, Perris said it was because he was accused of two “outbursts,” which he blamed on the stresses of the job and having to take care of family obligations.

“I was accused of a couple of outbursts, and to a considerable extent that can be a reflection of how exhausted I was a time,” Perris said. “Not the fact that it occurred but it sort of pointed out to me to both do this job and take care of my family obligations — it was a big load to bear.”

Not long after that incident, one of the two other paid staffers quit, but when contacted by Brooklyn Paper, the former board employee declined to comment for the story.

The staffer’s departure left just Perris and assistant district manager Carol-Ann Church in charge of overseeing the busy board, which gets many monthly applications for development, landmarks preservation issues, and liquor licenses in neighborhoods including Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Clinton Hill, Dumbo, Fort Greene, the Navy Yard, and Vinegar Hill.

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic spread through the city in March, the board was permitted by the city to hire two additional staffers, who Perris said have been instrumental in bringing the panel’s monthly meetings online.

The board will post for and appoint Perris’s replacement “when the time is appropriate,” Singletary wrote in the circulated Dec. 18 notice, adding that the remaining three staffers will continue to work in their current roles. 

“I want to assure you that we anticipate as little interruption in office operations as possible in the interim,” the civic guru wrote.